This is the first of three posts I intend to make related to my talk on “Managing your Product Management Career” at ProductCamp Boston.
We as software product managers, spend a lot of time managing products at work. We assess the competitive position of our products, we identify gaps in the product’s feature set and then enhancing our products to fill these gaps. This kind of assessment is an ongoing effort to make sure the products maintain their competitive edge in the marketplace. But how much time do we spend in our working career to assess the competitive position of the ONLY product we have absolute control over – OUR OWN CAREER? We could switch jobs, we could get laid off, we may switch careers, but amongst all this, there is only product that is constantly with us – our own skill set. If we do not assess where we stand and work on maintaining our competitive edge in the marketplace, we can only expect to become outdated and not finding a buyer for our services (future employers).
So how do we do a skill assessment to understand our strengths and weaknesses? It is quite simple and can be done using a simple Excel spreadsheet. Here is what you do.
1) Make a list of all the skills you need to be a world-class software product manager. The spreadsheet may look something like this
2) Then make a honest self assessment of where you stand today and how important this skill is to a Software Product Manager job on a scale of 1-High, 2-Medium and 3-Low as shown below.
3) Once you have completed the assessment, sort the spreadsheet so that the rows where “Importance to a Software Product Manager job” is 1-High and your current skill level is also 1-High is at the top as shown below.
4) The picture should now become clear. The rows colored in green are your strengths and the rows in red are your competitive weaknesses. This is where you should devote your energy, time and money.
You should plan on revisting this spreadsheet every 6 months to add new skills that you have developed and also to update your current skill set.
Thoughts and coomments?
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